Soviet-style fake photo or is Broadcasting Board of Governors staff making fun of absentee Board members?
BBG Watch Commentary
A photo on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) website shows Governors Michael Lynton and Dana Perino at the BBG meeting in Miami on April 20, 2012. There is only one problem with the photo: neither Michael Lynton nor Dana Perino attended the Miami meeting during which BBG members who were present voted to reverse the Board’s earlier decision to end Voice of America Tibetan radio broadcasts and to shut down the VOA Cantonese Service.
Perino and Lynton along with Governor S. Enders Wimbush have the worst attendance record at BBG meetings. Wimbush did attend the meeting and voted with the majority to restore funding for VOA broadcasts to Tibet and China despite his earlier support for the cuts.
The third BBG Governor in the photo is former mayor of Knoxville and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe who has the best attendance record at BBG meetings and who has led the fight to save Tibetan and Cantonese broadcasts. He was supported by Governors Michael Meehan and Susan McCue. Meehan and McCue do not appear in the photo, and neither does Governor Dennis Mulhaupt who presided over the meeting in Miami as a replacement for Michael Lynton. Lynton is the BBG’s interim presiding governor following the departure of Chairman Walter Isaacson in February, 2012.
As to why this particular photo was used, there could be several possible explanations, although only one of them seems plausible.
One conspiratorial explanation is that perhaps a dissident BBG staffer was trying to make fun of slacker Board members in an attempt to shame them into attending to their duties in the future. Or it could have been a deliberate placement of a Soviet-style fake photo by the public relations staff to show absentee Board members hard at work.
We prefer not to believe such wild theories and are inclined to attribute the photo to pure and simple laziness. Someone was too lazy to get a real photo from the meeting so they used an old image from some other BBG event without bothering to check whether all the persons in the photo were attending the Miami meeting. Using an old photo would have been in any case deceptive, especially for a communications agency that claims to practice and promote accurate and objective journalism.
But the far bigger problem are BBG members who fail to attend to their duties and allow incompetent staff to lead the agency from one disaster to another.
Cutting VOA broadcasts to Tibet and China while the Chinese government increases repression and Tibetan monks self-immolate to shock the conscience of the world???
What were BBG members thinking? Or perhaps they did not know what their executive staff was doing because they missed so many meetings.
While the BBG executive staff can’t get their photos straight, they do generate plans designed to increase their own bureaucratic control and power while incidentally getting the BBG members in trouble with the Congress and the constituent groups that support U.S. international broadcasting.
Their latest such scheme is the merger of the surrogate broadcasters: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). Let’s hope that this time all BBG members will attend their meetings and pay attention.
Given the knowledge that both Michael Lynton and Dana Perino were conspicuously absent from the BBG meeting in Miami recently makes the photo as one representing the event both deceitful and inexplicable.
A number of answers are put forward as a possible explanation but none really seems plausible other than the fact the BBG has been under fire from many sources during the last many months for incompetence and grasping for money, the Board wanted to assuage its detractors by allegedly showing attendance by more governors than actually attended the meeting.
Under any circumstances a correction has to be made and neither Lynton nor Perino can let this slide as a one-off or even a lazy error. Neither scenario is exceptable from such an over-paid gaggle of Board members. Both members must take steps to immediately correct the deceit.
One good outcome of the meeting is that upon reflection and pressure placed on the BBG, from both Congress and BBG WATCH and USIB, those who did attend saw fit to reverse the earlier decision which would have shut down VOA to Tibet as well as VOA to China in Cantonese.The earlier contention that shortwave could be replaced by the internet and satellite in order to broadcast uncensored newscasts has been disproved by many Chinese of all ages and districts , especially rural areas,who appeared on camera and testified in an earlier released video clip where they consistently state that without shortwave radio broadcasts from America they would simply be left adrift with no other access to uncensored news of Western values of freedom, basic human rights and an understanding of the rule of law that exists in democratic countries.